Dance as Sacred Offering: Three Women, Three Traditions: April 8
Dance as Sacred Offering: Three Women, Three Traditions
A unique opportunity to connect with three dancers whose work is dedicated to the Divine: Prema Dasara, creatrix of the Tara Dances, Chayito Champion, flamenco artist and leader of the Misa Flamenca, and Helene Christopher, bellydance artist and Wiccan priestess. Presentations by each will be interspersed with demonstrations and audience participation. Wear comfortable clothing: be prepared to rise from your seats, but no dance experience or mobility is required.
Prema Dasara, lineage holder of the Tara dances, has created a unique set of practices centered around Praises to the embodiment of the Divine Feminine, Buddha Goddess Tara. She is the founder, Spiritual and Creative Director of Tara Dhatu, an organization devoted to uplifting and inspiring humanity by transmitting the sacred arts in an authentic way. She teaches around the world, leading pilgrimages to India, Nepal and Bali and offering yearly retreats in Hawaii and Brazil.
Prema’s training includes the Odissi style of classical Indian temple dance, the Charya Nrytia school of Nepalese Buddhist dance, and the Balinese tradition, as well as classical Indian music. At the same time, she has been a student of comparative religions, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, which she combines in a magical way with dance to create meditative movement enriched with visualization, music and chanting. The dances become powerful methods for transformation—an opportunity to connect with, embody and manifest our innate wisdom, compassion and power. These are accessible practices that offer profound gifts. Prema invites us to joyfully to dance our spiritual awakening. Om Tare!
Chayito is a fourth generation Flamenco Singer/Dancer, having received instruction in her family’s lineage from her parents. Her recent engagements include Repertorio Español, Thalia Theatre, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City. She resides in San Antonio and is the originator of the only Misa Flamenca in the US, which she has been celebrating for 35 years at the San Fernando Cathedral and the Oblate grotto.
The Misa Flamenca is the combination of Catholic Holy Mass and the Spanish gypsy tradition of flamenco music anddance. This combination reflects the struggles, desperation, hope, and passion of the gitanos (Spanish gypsies). Through flamenco, the gitanos celebrate, worship, pray to, and praise the Divine, which is the reason the combination came together easily and is still practiced in Spain. To the Spaniards, the Catholic Chruch is considered an embodiment of the Holy Mother, containing precious rituals, scriptures and religious articles like a womb holds precious life. They call it “La Madre Santa Iglesia,” which alludes to Mother Mary. Chayito will be exploring flamenco dance praises to Mary, correlating the body movements as well as use of skirt, fans, and castanets to the transcendent experience of spiritual transformation.
Helene, aka Z-Helene, has been a teacher and performer of belly dance since 1977. For the past 27 years she has taught an accredited course on Middle Eastern Dance for Austin Community College. She has also been a practicing Wiccan priestess in the Tejas Web Reclaiming tradition since 1995.
In her presentation Unlocking the Belly Dance Language of the Goddess, Z-Helene maintains that the ancient, sensual, and sympathetic magic of belly dance has its origins in the neolithic Goddess cultures of eastern Europe and the Middle East. Utilizing archeologist Marija Gimbutas's research from her groundbreaking book The Language of the Goddess as a guideline, she will explore neolithic designs- many of them from Goddess figurines, murals, cave art, and pottery- and unlock and recover the origins of belly dance vocabulary using intelligence, intuition, and imagination. This is a part lecture, but mostly active dance class. Bring a hip scarf if you have one!